August 16, 2016 – Black Butte Dr, Weed, CA to Lassen National Forest, CA

A couple more cars pulled in last night, waking me up briefly when the lights would turn into the empty lot. Everyone minded their own business and I ended up waking up at about 7. Mt. Shasta is blocking the sun from my tent, so I was able to sleep unobstructed by the light for a little longer than normal. I get out of my tent just before 7:30 and make quick work of packing everything up. I stop along the way to I-5 to grab some breakfast and then make my way south just before 9. There is some construction going on causing all of the traffic to be in the left lane with the right lane torn up. The shoulder is still there though, so I’m riding along the Interstate for about 2 miles with no cars within 15 feet of me or so. This is a rare occasion and I’m definitely loving it. The love stops when I get to a bridge and the shoulder is torn up. There are a few steps of sort leading down maybe 3 feet to where they have torn up the road. I do my best to ride down these, but unfortunately I hit a jagged rock, cause my back tire to pop instantly. Not the way I wanted to start my day, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I fix the tire and continue south until a sign boots me off at the northern edge of the town of Mt. Shasta. I navigate through the town for a few miles until it connects up with I-5 again, but I take SR 89 instead.

My friend Kevin recommended that I go this way, so I figure I may as well. I’m not in a huge hurry to get to Sacramento, and if this route gives some better scenery and has a cooler temperature due to being in the mountains, I’m on board. Kevin suggested a route to me last summer that took me through Saratoga, WY into northern Colorado and then down the Poudre Canyon to Fort Collins. That route was sweet, so until he steers me wrong I’ll keep trying them. This route starts with about 5 miles of climbing and then a quick 5 mile descent into McCloud. I think about taking a quick stop here, but there is a restaurant about 15 miles up the road that I’ll be grabbing some food at. It seems to be a slow climb after McCloud on a pretty narrow road with minimal traffic, except that the traffic which does exist seems to be mostly logging trucks going way too fast. As these trucks blow by me in either direction the sawdust coming off the trees gets in my face and finds a way into my eyes often enough even with my glasses on. When I get close to Bartle Lodge it looks empty and and I notice the sign out front only lists hours for Wednesday-Sunday, so that’s a bummer. Nothing I can do about it though, so onward I push. It’s another 25 miles or so with some uphill and some downhill until Burney Falls. This is one of the highlights Kevin told me is a must stop.

I pull into the park and ask the girl at the gate if I have to pay to get in. She shakes her head and tells me where the waterfall is. I stop off at the guest center first though to grab some food as I’m quite hungry by this point. I overpay for one of the most bland turkey sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, but I guess that’s what these types of places do, they get you in and then charge whatever they want because you’ll pay it. Airports, sports stadiums, music venues, state and national parks, and I imagine the list goes on. I park my bike and make the hike down to the bottom of the waterfall. You can feel the cold mist as you walk down the trail and there are plenty of people out here snapping pictures and what not. No one is in the water though. I’m very hot at this point though and also quite dirty from a couple of days of riding without jumping into any water source. So I plunge right in. It is so clear and so cold and feels amazing. Took my breath away with how cold it was. I try to swim out to the falls, but get way too cold in the water so turn around. At this point I feel like I’m in a zoo or something. I notice after climbing out of the water that everyone down on the rocks is looking at me, like I’m the crazy one out here. Whereas I don’t see why someone would come here and not go for a swim. I don’t spend long down here and hike back up, get on the bike and start back down the road. It takes less than 5 minutes of riding for my entire body and shorts to dry out, and I kind of wish I had another body of water to jump into again since it’s pretty hot out now. I’d guess somewhere in the low 90’s.

There are plenty of trees giving off shade, but the heat is still making it’s presence known. I ride through mostly forested land, some of which had been burnt recently, and stop in Hat Creek at an RV Camp that has a restaurant/convenience store. My sandwich wasn’t nearly satisfying enough at Burney Falls. I grab a burger and drink about a pitcher of water, both of which were incredible. The word on the street here is that it’s basically all uphill to Lassen National Park, which isn’t the most ideal situation but there is also nothing I can do about it, so I just get on the bike and set out to get it done. I ride through lava fields and forest, misty uphill to Old Station and stop for some Gatorade and a water refill. Another 10 miles or so down the road I stop at a Vista Point to catch some shade. While I’m here a pick up truck pulls in to use the bathroom and then the guy comes over to chat with me for a bit. He gives me a cold bottle of water and guava fruit drink of some sort, since he is nearly home and thinks I could use them more than he could. I’ll never pass up some cold water and gladly take it from him and start chatting with him a bit. He’s a marathon runner is returning from a trip around Yosemite to his home in Red Bluff. He offers a ride down Red Bluff if I don’t want to do all the climbing through the National Park, which I think about for a brief minute but decline because I think I’d regret it in the long run. He takes off and I leave shorty after, making it to park entrance a little before 8.

It’s $10 for bikes to enter, and $20 for a car. This makes zero sense to me. If I had a friend with me, we’d be charged the same amount on 2 bikes or in 1 car. When obviously the car leaves more pollution and takes up much more space, but what can you do. I get in and start riding through the park. It’s mostly uphill for the first 20 miles or so. I think about stopping, but it feels good to climb at this point in the evening. The sun goes down, it’s close to a full moon and is a clear night, and there is essentially no traffic in either direction at this point. So I make the push to the top, stopping a couple of times in the process to snack on some cashews and drink water. The views out here are incredible, and I imagine it looks amazing during the day, but I’ve got the unique experience of doing this in the moonlight. The highest elevation the road gets to is 8511, and after this its about an 11 mile descent out of the park, which I make in less than half an hour. I smell sulfur on the way down and hear a boiling sound at a certain point, so stop to check out boiling mud on the side of the road. Other than this I just cruise straight out of the park and then pull off on the first road I see. This takes me away from the main road and into a large dirt area that has been cleared out. I set up my tent and quickly fall asleep since I’m quite tired after all of this climbing. Tomorrow I hope to make it to Sacramento.

131.42 miles
10:35:33 in the saddle
12.4 Avg. MPH
10390 feet of elevation gained
7477 feet of elevation lost

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August 15, 2016 – Milepost 232 on US 97, OR to Black Butte Dr, Weed, CA

During the night a couple of trucks pulled into my area and continued on down the dirt road to wherever it leads. Other than that it was a pretty peaceful sleep. I suppose it helped being as tired as I was. I woke up a little before 6 when I noticed light coming through my tent door since it is facing east. The sunrise looks pretty sweet and I should’ve gotten up, but I dozed back off for another hour and a half or so. When I finally do get up the sun is shining bright in my tent and it reminds me to pay more attention to what direction my tent door is facing when I set up. But I needed to be getting up anyway, so it worked out. Traffic is starting to pick up and become fairly steady on the highway, making a lot of noise in the process, so I start packing things up in my tent. I climb outside a little after 8 and have a little snack and water while packing everything up and then get on the road just before 9.

I start out down the road again through forest and relatively flat land. There are a couple of small places to stop along the way, but Klamath Falls at roughly 45 miles is the name of my game for lunch today. Right when Upper Klamath Lake gets into view for me, I spot 2 riders stopped up in the distance. They are a couple from the UK and are riding Vancouver, BC to San Francisco.. We chat for 10 minutes or so and then set out to ride together. Only the guy is carrying any gear and it’s only 2 small rear panniers and they are either staying at motels or AirBnB places each night. I imagine this is racking up a bit of a credit card bill, but they are doing it the way they want to. The guy ends up pulling ahead of me, and the girl falls behind as the shoulder thins out and becomes only wide enough for one person to be riding in it anyway. After maybe 7 miles the guy is stopped and I chat with him for another quick minute before continuing on my way. They are only going to Klamath Falls today and can take as long as they’d like I imagine, whereas I’m trying to make it to Sacramento by Wednesday. I end up getting to Klamath Falls and take the business route of US 97 to grab some lunch.

It’s not even noon yet and I’m well ahead of where I was at this time yesterday, but I need to keep reminding myself that everyday is independent of each. That goes for everything in life. I take a pretty long break, over an hour, but get plenty of water and Powerade in me, so that’s a good thing. About 10 miles after this I cross into California and Sacramento starts showing up on the mileage signs. There’s a vehicle inspection station along the road that I get waved right through, not sure what they are inspecting for but I guess I’m no threat. About 12 miles into California is a little town called Macdoel, the last service for about 40 miles until I get to Weed. I stop at the gas station here and grab some chicken to eat from the deli and also chat with the employees a bit to get an idea of what my upcoming route has in store for me.

About 6 miles after I get back on the road I begin climbing a mountain pass that lasts about 5 miles. I knew this would be coming based on views really since I entered California, you’ve got to get over mountains somehow. The next 10 miles are a bit of up and down slow rollers and then I get to a rest stop along Grass Lake. The lake is very well named as I can’t see any water, but all sorts of grass. I stop to lay down on a bench for a minute and a lady who is the contractor for the rest stop asks if I’m going to be camping for the night here. She tells it’s fine if I want to but to be careful as there is a mountain cat around. I’m gonna be pressing onward but thank her anyway. A random lady comes up to me while laying on the bench and hands me a 10 piece chicken nugget. I’m stoked on this and devour these along with an extra Powerade I packed away at Macdoel. There are a bunch of chipmunks running around the rest area, and one of them becomes very curious with my bike, climbing all over it. I have a hole in the bottom of one of my panniers and I assume he can smell the cashews inside of it and is trying to find a way to get to them. He’s unsuccessful, but it is amusing to watch.

I have a brief climb right after this and then basically 19 miles of mostly downhill into Weed. For a fair stretch of this I’ve got great views of Mt. Shasta and I’m really hoping the surveyors found an efficient way around this mountain without having too much elevation gain and loss along the way. That would have been an interesting job, in particular when surveying for the railroad during the building of the transcontinental railroad. Those guys were going into unchartered areas and had to find minimal grades for the trains to cross mountains. Anyway, I pull into Weed a little before 8 and notice I picked up a slow leak somewhere along the way, so I stop to fix this. I’m not allowed on the interstate yet, so I take frontage roads a couple of miles south before deciding I don’t want to go any further. I grab some food and then look at a satellite view of my surroundings to find a camp spot. Less than 1/4 of a mile down the road is a dirt pullout that it looks like trucks may use to sleep for the night. I head over there and find that it’s empty. I set up my camp behind a tree, giving some sort of block from the road, and climb into my tent about 9:30. Shortly after this a car pulls in and it has me on alert to make sure they don’t come over to mess with me. After maybe 5 minutes I decide they are doing their own thing and fall asleep at ease.

116.89 miles
7:56:48 in the saddle
14.7 Avg. MPH
3550 feet of elevation gained
4311 feet of elevation lost

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August 14, 2016 – Juniper Glen. Tumalo, OR to Milepost 232 on US 97, OR

I woke up a couple of times during the night because I was too warm and then woke up at about 9:30 to go to the bathroom. No one else in the house was up and moving yet, so I went and laid back down. Within a few minutes Voyager and Sophie have found their way over to me and are licking my face. This gets me up for good and I begin picking up beer cans and bottles and putting away yard games to help in the clean up process. When I finish with this I get my things packed up and then breakfast is ready. Potatoes, eggs, bacon, and donuts. Breakfast of champions right there.

I end up hitting the road a little after noon and am not sure how far I’ll make it due to not feeling all that great and getting such a late start. I have to be pretty attentive riding through Bend, as there are a number of on and off ramps from US 97, but after that the ride is pretty smooth sailing. I’m in the thick of forest out here and even though it’s only in the high 80’s maybe, it feels great having the shade from the trees to cool me down even more. It’s a steady uphill climb until nearly Sunriver when I go over Lava Butte Pass at 4510 feet. From there it’s mostly flat with just short sections of a small uphill or downhill grade. It is quite hot outside and I stop in La Pine for some food, shade, and rest. It’s about 3 PM at this point and I’m 35 miles in. But I’m still going for 100 today and this works out perfectly to divide my day into thirds.

I get back on the road about 40 minutes later and am basically in forest from here on out. This is unknown to me at the time, but I’m optimistic that it stays like this and it’ll make finding a camping spot really easy later in the night with all of the logging and forest service roads that venture off of US 97. I take a brief break in Crescent to soak up some shade and stretch for a bit outside of a gas station. A Hispanic guy that speaks pretty broken English comes over and starts chatting with me. He asks where I’m going and where I came from, etc. Any answer that I give him, he replies with “that’s too much” and shakes his head a little bit. I hop back on the road because I’m burning daylight quick and ride the 18 miles to Chemult in just over an hour. I stop at the Pilot Travel Center and eat half a sandwich there and save the other half for when I finish off my night. The main thing for me right now is just refilling my water bottles and drinking as much water as I can every time I stop.

Just under 75 miles for the day and I set off again a little after 7 with the intention of getting the century mark. The road is fairly flat, the views are nothing but road in front and trees on both sides, the shoulder is fairly wide with a rumble strip and in good condition, and the cars are thinning out. It has cooled off significantly and I’m aided by the trees as well giving plenty of shade, but I can still see beautiful colors in the sky off to my right as the sun is beginning to set. I make it to 90 miles before I feel it’s necessary to stop and put on my lights.

From this point it gets really dark really fast and by the time I get to 100 miles I can’t see anything that isn’t directly in my light beam (other than the moon). I point my light off to the right to start looking for a place to pull off the road and I do so at the first spot I see, less than a mile after 100. It is a dirt road with a large turn around area in it. I set up my tent in the turn around area as far away from US 97 as I can get and also away from the main dirt road in case any vehicles are to come in or go out. My sandwich is consumed and my teeth are brushed with me climbing into my tent to lay down at about 9:45. I miss riding deeper into the evening hours, but it is also pretty awesome to be done by this time and ready to fall asleep. I believe I’m at about 5000 feet elevation tonight and I throw on the rainfly because I think it’s going to get cold and the extra layer really helps to trap in heat. I’m really enjoying how dark and desolate it is out here, making my star gazing out of the door of my tent that much more pleasant.

100.95 miles
6:41:44 in the saddle
15.1 Avg. MPH
2608 feet of elevation gained
1401 feet of elevation lost

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August 13, 2016 – SW Highland Ln, Madras, OR to Juniper Glen, Tumalo, OR

Slept pretty great and was wide awake by 6. The sun was coming up and shining into my tent giving some extra warmth, not that it was needed as I didn’t even get into my sleeping bag last night. I laid around for a while just enjoying the act of being horizontal before getting up for good at about 7. I ate some cashews and drank a bunch of water for my breakfast while packing up and got on the road a little before 8.

The first few miles are slow going I think because I’ve got a slight incline. I thought about continuing on last night despite the darkness, but if I keep a roughly 11 MPH like I have for the first 5 miles it would’ve taken me another 3 hours to get to Tumalo last night. Traffic isn’t too heavy this early and the road is generally in good condition, but I’m quite certain I wouldn’t have been able to avoid all of the small debris in the road last night and would’ve picked up a flat. The views are great, with the peaks of the Cascades to my right the whole time and Smith Rock visible to my left for about 10 miles.

I take a break in Redmond, 20 miles into the day, for some food mainly because I know I’m not going to get to Tumalo by 10 when everyone there is either going hiking or mountain biking. Which is fine, because I really want to take a dip in the Deschutes River. I finish off the mostly flat ride from Redmond into Tumalo at about 11 and decide to go down to Tumalo State Park to get in the water for a bit. Cars cost $5 to use the day use area but I figured I’m not taking up any extra space so I cruise right by and take my bike down to the river with me. There are a number of picnics and families hanging out at the park playing yard games, wading in the water, and some beginning to float the river to a mystery (to me) location. I head into the water and swim around a bit washing all the dirt off of my body with the slow moving water. The river is about mid quad level, giving me plenty of room to swim around, sit, or lay in the water. It’s not as hot out today as it was yesterday, but the contrast of the water with the high 80’s to low 90’s air temperature feels quite good. I go in and back out to warm up a few times before a number of little kids start showing up having water fights and such. I decide this is as good a time as any to get out of here and head to the house in Tumalo.

I get to the house a little before 1 with Sam and Kelly showing up shortly afterwards giving me access into the gated acreage. We hang out for a bit before the rest of the friends come back from hiking; Brian, Colin, Matt, Erin, Toby, and Larkin. We set up and play some yard games, have some drinks, get down on a delicious dinner, compete in a weightlifting contest, and then finish the night off playing Pictionary. I am one of the first to call it a night a little after 3 AM and have a feeling that tomorrow might be slow going for me, which is fine. I didn’t bother setting up my tent tonight, instead just grabbing my sleeping bag and sleeping on the floor of the weight room.

36.17 miles
2:44:46 in the saddle
13.2 Avg. MPH
1594 feet of elevation gained
797 feet of elevation lost

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August 12, 2016 – Laurie’s house, Portland, OR to SW Highland LN, Madras, OR

After about two weeks off of the bike I was definitely anxious to get back on and start heading south. I enjoyed my time off in Portland, Denver, and Indianapolis. Hanging with friends and family as much as possible. I intended on leaving earlier in the week, but it was Burger Week in Portland and I’ve missed out on that the last 2 years due to GenCon being the same week. What is Burger Week you may be asking? $5 burgers that 30+ restaurants around the city put together specifically for this week, they aren’t on the menu the rest of the time. And I love a burger, so decided to stick around to enjoy a few of these. A handful of my friends are staying at a house in Tumalo (just outside of Bend) for the weekend, so my goal is to make it there tonight. This is about 150 miles away.

I stayed up later than I intended to last night and this ended up hurting me in the morning. My buddy Juan was going to ride some miles out of town with me, but he called a rain check in the morning and in doing so I decided I’d sleep for a couple more hours. The initial goal was to get on the road around 7 and ideally be over Mt. Hood by noon, also beating the heat as much as possible. I didn’t end up getting on the road until about 9 though with this extra sleep, but it was much needed. I took Burnside out to 181st and then headed south to the Springwater Corridor to get out of town. I took this nearly until Boring, hoping off a couple of miles shy when the trail was as close to US 26 as possible. It’s a slight uphill the majority of the way for the first 38 miles when I take a break in Zigzag at the ranger station for some shade, a sandwich, to refill my water, and also rest before the significant uphill I know is coming from prior experience.

The next 12 miles are all uphill, with elevation signs every 500 vertical feet telling me how high I am. There are views for days during this stretch as I am thick in the forest as well as on cliffs part of the time and Mt. Hood comes into view every now and then. There are stretches of construction as well where the road is chewed up a bit. I don’t know if this slowed me down at all because I was already going slow enough during the climb. I stopped twice climbing the hill to grab some shade and get into my growlers of ice cold water since my water bottle in my cage was giving me nothing but lukewarm to hot water after maybe 10 minutes of putting in ice cold water. This will be a recurring issue I’m sure during this stretch of desert I’ll be riding.

I made it to the top, right around 4000 feet and am met with an immediate downhill. There is a gas station shorty after and I see a climb in the distance, so I stop off here to grab a cold drink and some snacks. From here it’s mostly downhill (other than two passes that are right around 4000 feet) and flat through forest into Warm Springs Reservation which gives me shade often times and is very much welcomed. As I get closer to the town of Warm Springs the trees thin out and I start to feel the effects of the heat a lot more, needing to stop almost any time there is shade and drinking as much water as I can while rationing it appropriately to make it to Warm Springs. I’m light headed at times and am starting to feel sleepy. It’s in the mid 90’s and very dry out here. My body is covered in salt from my sweat drying on my skin. The nice part about the trees thinning out is I have a great view of Mt. Jefferson to the west of me as I’m riding, and anytime I stop I’ve still got a great view of Mt. Hood.

There is a 3 mile downhill or so song some bluffs before reaching Warm Springs which is quite fun bombing down in the mid 30’s. I stop at a gas station and spend about 5 minutes in the shade before going inside for a snack and some cold drinks. While I’m sitting outside after this one of the employees starts chatting with me and comes back out to give me an Essentia Water for free. Very much appreciated and hopefully this extra boost of electrolytes will help in this heat as I hear I have an uphill climb to Madras.

It’s about 6:00 when I get back on the road and it has cooled down a bit in addition to having areas with cliffs around that give me shade along the Deschutes River. I eventually get to a least a 3 mile climb of significant grade, which normally wouldn’t be an issue but I’m 100+ miles in on the day and I’ve already crossed over the Cascade mountain range. I pull into Madras about 7:30 and stop off for some food and water and to recharge my phone. The sun sets a little after 8, but I should be good to ride without lights until 8:30 or so, and then ideally I’m far enough along towards Tumalo that I keep going.

The miles are slow going and it gets dark way faster than I anticipated after I get back on the road. Traffic is quite heavy along US 97 going south and I’d rather not become a victim of a drunk driver at night time out here (the shoulder doesn’t have a rumble strip between it and the lanes of traffic). I pull off about 8 miles south of Madras and maybe 30-35 miles short of Tumalo. I pull off on a road and then set up camp along a dirt road right next to an irrigation canal. I still have enough light to set up my tent and my teeth are brushed with me in the tent by 9. Hopefully with an earlier stop tonight I’ll be well rested tomorrow, but it is a short day anyway, so it should be easy enough regardless. It’s too warm out to use my sleeping bag and the dew point won’t be reached tonight, so I leave the rainfly off and drift off while watching the stars come out and a couple of meteors going by in the sky.

119.76 miles
9:07:07 in the saddle
13.1 Avg. MPH
7510 feet of elevation gained
4984 feet of elevation lost

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July 25, 2016 – Little Creek Quarry, Taylor Towne, WA to Caleb and Laurie’s house, Portland, OR

I found myself waking up a number of times during the night. First time was due to a car stopping along the road and I could hear the creaking sound of the hood being raised. This alerted me and I don’t really know why because I’m easily 200 feet or so from the vehicle and you’d have to be looking for my tent or know of this spot to find me. There are a few pieces of litter scattered around my camp, so at least one other person has been here before. There was also a couple moments of leaves crackling around my tent site that woke me up, I assume they were just an animal, perhaps a deer or perhaps something even smaller. Nothing that kept me awake too long or warranted my hand on my knife, although it still lays right next to me while I sleep. It’s been a while since I’ve slept in the tent and during one of the times I wake up the moon is looking really awesome as it creates natural light in the cloudless sky with no light pollution around. Traffic gets noticeably heavier and the birds are chirping like crazy when I get up for good just before 7:30.

The only piece of food I have is a tangerine and I quickly demolish that. I’m really hungry though, so I think my body is telling me I should’ve eaten more food last night. It doesn’t take long to get everything packed up and then I get on the road. I’ve called the Washington State Highway Patrol to ask them when bikes are allowed back on I-5 south of Olympia so I can get an idea of my route south of here. They tell me it’s on the southern end of Tumwater, so I need to figure out a way to get from US 101 to that point. 2 miles into my day I pick up a flat tire. Industrial staple and I’m not super stoked about having a flat right out of the gate like this and hope it isn’t a sign to come for the rest of the day. I only get about 15 miles in on the 101 before there is a sign informing bikes that they must exit.

At this point I figure I may as well grab some food and figure out my best route south from here. Google has me turning on a number of roads in Tumwater, but I find a route that seems to be more direct, so I opt for that. Sure enough this route takes me up and over a hill, but at least I get to experience the downhill. Where I thought I could get on the I-5 I was mistaken and I have to keep on continuing south. Exit 95 at Maytown is what I’m shooting for and to my excitement there are no signs prohibiting bikes at this on ramp. At times I-5 is much less than ideal due to the amount of debris in the road, and all I can think of is why can’t WSDOT run a sweeper through the shoulder like they do the other lanes of traffic. I’m trying to work together with traffic and don’t think I impede anyone’s progress on the road by being there, except at times when there is so much debris in the shoulder and my best route through it is right next to the rumble strip. This might make traffic a little nervous but I don’t want to be running over large pieces of tire, wood, metal, etc. I assume there is a sweeper that makes regular passes on the 2-4 lanes of traffic on the Interstate, why not make one more pass through the shoulder, as this is a legal and viable way for bikes to head north and south through this stretch. I get kicked off north of Centralia by a sign that appears to have been placed recently and most likely due to construction ahead. There is a frontage road that I’m able to follow though and get right back on the Interstate just south of the city. As I cruise through Chehalis I look over to my usual camping spot when I ride Seattle to Portland and get a bit of nostalgia going on as I remember the 3 times I’ve camped in that area and the rides I’ve had with Romano and Travis during this stretch.

Near mile 60 on my day as well as being near milepost 60 on I-5 I am cruising down a hill right before a river crossing. My back tire blows out and I have no idea why. I stop as fast as I can do as to not do any damage to my rim. I’m maybe 100 yards from an off ramp and decide I’ll just take it to grab some food and fix my tire. This was about 10 miles short of my goal of getting to Castle Rock for lunch. There’s a combined gas station and subway immediately upon exiting the Interstate, so I hit that up. It’s getting pretty hot outside so it’s an extended break and I probably drink in the neighborhood of a gallon of water during a little more than an hour long break. A couple of people chat with me when I head back outside to my bike. When asked where I’m headed now it’s kind of surreal that I’m now mentioning I’ll be to Portland later today. Getting back on the bike takes me a bit and I must’ve made this pretty clear because an old timer comes over and makes that his first comment before chatting with me for 10 minutes or so. Back on I-5 and I’ve got a few bridge crossing where the shoulder narrows a bit and the debris seems to pile up even more than before. Not real happy about this, but I just keep my head down and try to dodge everything while staying in my lane. When I get a bit further south and am along the Columbia River I have cars passing almost non-stop, freight trains consistently going by along the river, and a large ship moving on the water. A great display of different forms of transportation.

I stop in Woodland a little before 5 to grab some more shade and also to try and avoid rush hour traffic as I get closer to the Vancouver and Portland areas. This break is about an hour long, and I try to delay as much as possible to give my old roommate Caleb enough time to take a nap before I get into Portland. It’s a pretty uneventful ride for the rest of the time on I-5 and when the split with I-205 happens my options are to navigate the downtown streets of Vancouver down to the I-5 bridge or stay on I-205 for that bridge crossing. I choose the latter. Bikes are required to exit a couple of exits north of the Columbia River and I navigate through the suburbs back down to the I-205 bridge where there is a bike path in between the north and southbound lanes. It’s about 8 PM at this point and the streets are quiet and well labeled with signs directing me to different areas of Vancouver. After a few miles I make it to the bridge and am soon crossing into Oregon.

It is a beautiful evening with Mt. Hood prominently on display to the east with the sun about half hour from setting to the west barely above the river giving me some sweet views for the downhill ride. Coming into Portland is a strange feeling for me. Hard to believe that this section of the trip is done and also just has me thinking back to some of the remote areas and roundabout way I was riding through to get back to this point. I knew I’d make it, as long as I didn’t get hit by a vehicle, but at times when I was so much further north it all felt so far away. Along the trail I spot a syringe on the ground right by Gateway Transit Center and have a good laugh with this ‘welcome home’ kind of moment. I take the trail down to Burnside and then head over to my old house where Caleb is hanging out waiting. We drink a few beers before he needs to crash due to working at 3 AM tomorrow morning. Laurie gets back from work just before 11 and we head down the street to a bar to have a couple of drinks. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off of the bike, other than commuting around town. Later on in the week I fly to Denver and then early next week continue onto Indianapolis to work at GenCon. I’ll be returning to Portland on August 8 and will likely get back on the bike the following day or two to continue itching this adventure scratch.

133.74 miles
8:28:49 in the saddle
16 Avg. MPH
4249 feet of elevation gained
4026 feet of elevation lost

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July 24, 2016 – Carol and Neal’s house, Anacortes, WA to Little Creek Quarry, Taylor Towne, WA

My intentions of getting on the road by 7 didn’t work out. I woke up a little bit before 5 and could’ve made it happen, but decided I’d like to get a little more sleep and then woke up and joined them for Sunday morning breakfast a little bit before 7. They have cooked up bacon, eggs, English muffins, and some fruit and it is quite delicious. I power down a few glasses of water to hydrate up, as I’ve done an awful lot of dehydrating over the past days in Seattle and Bellingham and plan to be putting in at least a century today. We grab a few photos outside of their house and then say our goodbyes. Riding out of the driveway reminded me very much of doing this same thing on my first trip in 2010 with their son Kyle and my buddy Kevin. Anacortes was our starting point and Chico, CA our ending point and that’s where I fell in love with bike touring.

It is a foggy morning out on the water, but quite beautiful up on the hill they live on and I quickly make my way down to Deception Pass without much traffic. Gotta love those Sunday mornings. I stop at Deception Pass to grab a couple of photos and check out the view with patches of fog below the 180 foot high bridge. From here it’s SR 20 all the way down to Coupeville and other than a tight shoulder going through Oak Harbor, the road is awesome. I imagine riding a bike at a busier time wouldn’t be much fun through Oak Harbor though. When I get to Coupeville I head due south on Fort Casey road rather than taking SR 20 as it loops around further to the east before getting to the ferry terminal. Along the way a guy named Pat (I believe, names escape me easily) is riding the opposite direction and stops to chat with me for a bit. I can see that the 11 AM ferry has already left, so I’m not too concerned about spending a few minutes to chat since the next one isn’t until 11:45. After maybe 5-10 minutes he keeps heading north and I south.

To take the ferry over to Port Townsend it costs me all of $3.80, which I’d have to say is a pretty good deal. I don’t know what cars have to pay and don’t particularly care because it isn’t relevant to me, but a bicycle is only a $.50 for a walk-on passenger to bring. Carol convinced me to make a couple of sandwiches this morning, and I’m glad I did because I have some downtime while waiting for the ferry to get back and I have a banana and both of the sandwiches while waiting. This should hold me over long enough. There is one other bike that gets on and his initial comment was that I was packing a lot of stuff on my bike. When he learned where I had started and how long I’d been on the road he changed his tune. He biked up to Coupeville from Seattle on Friday for the weekend and just maybe an extra shirt, pump, and bike tool. He tells me he has to stop in Port Townsend to grab another tube since he got a flat on the way up, I offer him one of mine that has been patched, but his tires are significantly thinner than mine. While watching the Olympic Mountains get closer, flocks of seagulls, and plenty of sailboats and powerboats cruising around in the water, we get to having a bit of a conversation. He tells me of how depressing he thinks the 101 is going around the peninsula, except for a small stretch while it is right along the Pacific Ocean. As he’s talking about this I start plugging in different routes into google maps and decide that I will pass on the peninsula this time and instead make it back to Portland with a little more time to spare and allow me to see some more people before catching a flight later in the week. He says he’ll ride with me for a bit if I want after he stops by the bike shop. I figure what the heck, it’d be alright to have some company.

After the ferry arrives in Port Townsend we are the first ones off, another perk of being car free – first one on and first one off. We bike towards the bike shop and along the way decides he’s going to mess around in Port Townsend for a while, checking out a boat shop as well. This is fine, I say adios and then start making my way back towards SR 20 via a trail giving some decent views of Port Townsend Bay. I catch up to an old timer along the trail and we chat and ride for a few miles before he turns off for his house. As we separate he lets me know that hearing about my trip is quite inspiring and might be the kick that he needs to make one happen himself, in particular since he wasn’t sure how much longer he could be out riding. My guess is he was in his early to mid 70’s. I’m all for it and actually saw a Facebook post from my friend Steph today that said ‘do something today that makes you proud of yourself’. That’s a pretty good way to live and one that I spend some time thinking about for a few miles. I was proud to have encouraged and inspired this guy to ride the 101 down California, as he was saying it’s something he’s always wanted to do.

Anyway, I continue south on SR 19 rather than SR 20 and take this to Poulsbo before stopping for a late lunch a little after 3 and just before 70 miles. The scenery had been a nice countryside for the most part, with traffic pretty consistent on the 2-lane highway, and I was able to pass the time pretty well by chatting with my folks on the phone. Along the way I cross over the Hood Canal Bridge, which is probably a little over a mile long and gives some great water and land views. I’m all about bridges over water features. I spend maybe an hour off of the bike and out of the sun in Poulsbo before I get onto SR 3 and deal with what is essentially Interstate conditions. Wide shoulders, plenty of debris at times but a smooth blacktop, a constant flow of traffic in the 2 lanes going in my direction, as well as on and off ramps for me to deal with. I was going to head to Bremerton and take a short ferry to Port Orchard, but it doesn’t run on Sunday’s apparently, so I loop around the west end of the Sinclair Inlet. In doing so I hop off of SR 3 for a quick minute to figure out which route I want to take and stop right by some blackberry bushes that I snack on as well. I decide to keep taking SR 3 south to Shelton because I think the traffic will die down more, rather than heading east and eventually crossing into Tacoma. I’m pretty sure I made the right move when it quickly goes down to 2 lanes total and traffic isn’t going by me nearly as consistently as it was. This stretch takes me through a lot of replanted forest land and I notice dozens of logging roads right off the road that would be so easy to stop and camp at. However, my water supply is very low, so onward I go. Eventually SR 3 goes right along Oakland Bay and it seems to be all private property through here, ideal land as far as a view goes.

I pull into Shelton a little after 8 and stop for some dinner and to make sure my water is refilled. I’m riding with just one water bottle in my cages now since one of the caps broke in Seattle while I was riding around the city and it popped out and hit the ground. I’ve figured I’ll be fine until I get back down to Oregon and I can buy it without paying sales tax. I eat quickly and get back on the road about 8:45 with the sun rapidly setting. And with the amount of tree cover I have it’ll probably get darker a lot faster than I’ve been used to lately. I keep heading south on SR 3 until it intersects with US 101 and then I hop on there. There are a lot of houses and business along the road for the first few miles and then I get to a cross street that I notice has a road closed sign. This is perfect for me. I ride down the road just a bit and find a gravel road leading to a quarry that is gated off. I imagine someone might not be stoked to find me on the other side of the gate, so I set up my tent in a little book just off of the gravel road. It’s only 9:30ish when I decide to stop, but it’s good to get things set up when it’s still relatively light out. I can hear and see some of the lights of the occasional traffic going by on US 101, but I don’t imagine it’ll be much of an issue overall for me to get some sleep. I’m hoping I can make it all the way into Portland tomorrow. I plan on riding I-5 a lot of the way as the options become limited further south.

122.97 miles
8:56:10 in the saddle
13.8 Avg. MPH
5827 feet of elevation gained
5955 feet of elevation lost

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July 23, 2016 – Caleb’s house, Bellingham, WA to Carol and Neal’s house, Anacortes, WA

I wake up at about 4 AM and decide it’s way too early to be awake. I have trouble falling back asleep though, sometimes I get anxious when I know I’ll be getting back on the road. I end falling back asleep eventually and then wake up for real at about 8. Caleb has already left for work but Joel has the weekend off, so we hang out for a bit as I’m getting things taken care of before leaving. This involves swapping out my front and back tire, piling my chain, getting the tubes patched, and just reorganizing my bags. Joel takes off a little after 11 to run some errands and I hang out for just a bit longer before riding my bike into town to grab some lunch. I stop off at Boomers for a couple of burgers and then get on the road just before noon.

My route out of town puts me on the Interurban trail out to Chuckanut Drive. Once I get onto Chuckanut there is quite a bit of traffic. The shoulder is often times non existent, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from enjoying the ride. It is a clear day with plenty of great views of the bay with low tide and the San Juan Islands as a backdrop. The road gets off of the bay and into the flat farmland of Skagit Valley and I’m able to pick up some speed a bit. I wind through Edison and the main drag is pretty packed, I assume since it’s a Saturday and it’s a boutique kind of place to go to. It’s a straight shot south on Farm to Market Road with a few rolling hills along the way. I stop about 20 miles into my ride to hit up some blackberries that are growing along the side of the road. This is a very delicious 15 minute stop and one that I need to do more often.

A short while after this I’m heading west on SR 20 towards Anacortes and shortly after the bridge crossing to Fidalgo Island I get on a bike path that takes me on an old train trestle across Fidalgo Bay and into Anacortes. I’m staying with Carol and Neal Pyke today and their house is just a couple of miles from the end of this trail. It’s a bit of a hill climb to make it up to their house, but much better at 35 miles than it is at 120 miles. I arrive at about 3:30 and they are both outside doing yard work. They greet me and I’m immediately offered a cold beer. We hang outside for a little while in the shade and then I go inside to take a shower before dinner. They cook up a delicious meal of salmon, eggplant, salad, and orzo which I gladly make sure they have no leftovers from. A couple of their friends, John and Michelle, join us for dessert of blackberry crumb cake. John works on creating sensible bike routes for Washington and was quite curious about my route and also seemed to have some good information about a potential route for me tomorrow around the Olympic Peninsula.

We spend most of the rest of the evening looking at maps and sharing stories of the road. Neal and Carol travel by RV quite often and are planning an Alaska trip for 2017. There are a number of routes I can take to head south to Portland from here and at the time of calling it a night I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking US 101 around the Olympic Peninsula. I end up falling asleep around midnight with the intention of getting started around 7 tomorrow morning.

35.57 miles
2:44:07 in the saddle
13 Avg. MPH
1916 feet of elevation gained
1627 feet of elevation lost

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July 19 – July 22, 2016

After that wrestling match last night my body is definitely feeling it. I don’t suppose that the amount of riding I’ve been doing is helping with that either. I stretch for a while after waking up and then ride down to Fred Meyer to grab a new iPhone charging cord, as mine is no longer working. After this I head over to Whole Foods to chat with the store manager and put a face to my name in case I ever want to transfer up here. My extra tube supply is dwindling, so I stop by Kulshan cycles and get 4 tubes for free thanks to the people who take their flat tires into a bike shop for repair. I then head up to Boundary Bay to have some drinks with an old economics professor of mine, John Krieg. We spend a couple of hours catching up and unfortunately I don’t have my racquetball stuff with me to play with him. I ride back up to Caleb’s house and we walk over to Whatcom Falls Park to jump off of the cliffs a couple of times. Dinner follows this along with his other two roommates, Joel and Joel, and friend Patrick.

On Wednesday I ride up to the Sehome Arboretum and hang out on the tower up there for a while looking at all the trees around me and getting a small glimpse of the bay. The trees have gotten taller since I moved from here, so the view isn’t as good as it once was, and it’s also in the thick of summer so all the trees are full of leaves. Later on in the year I imagine there is still a pretty decent view of the water. I start to just ride my bike around town a bit and find myself close to Taylor Dock, an ideal spot to jump in Bellingham Bay. So I stop there and spend maybe an hour jumping in the water, swimming around for a bit, climbing back out, and repeating. I ride to Boulevard Park after this and can’t believe the amount of people that are walking around presumably playing Pokemon Go, since they are in groups and their heads are buried in their phones. I don’t quite understand the whole concept of the game, but to each their own. Caleb and the Joel’s meet back up at their house about 3:30 and I arrive shortly after for a trip out to Nooksack River. We spend some time on the river playing with the frisbee and Caleb’s dog Nooka. It’s a beautiful spot that one has one other group of two people that are way down the river from us, making it feel like we can do anything out there. After some fun and potentially bad decisions playing on the fast river we head back into town. I’m pretty exhausted from the sun and drinking most of the day that I end up falling asleep pretty shortly after getting back to their house.

Thursday involved taking it easy for a bit in the morning before another old friend, Josh, came by to ride with Caleb and I out to the north shore of Lake Whatcom. This is a 10 mile ride or so with the lake basically next to us the whole time. We meet up with another friend, Dave, and do some fishing and swimming in the lake. Basically the whole day is spent just playing in the water. Dave leaves at about 5:30, and is promptly replaced by another friend, Chance. We all end up taking off and riding back into town around 8:30 and get some pretty great views along the way. We eat a little good upon getting back to Caleb’s place and then end up falling asleep watching some TV.

Saturday is a day of taking care of business. Caleb rides with me out to the Cordata co-op so I can see some of the people I used to work with. After a quick visit there with Shawn, Ted, and Gordon we ride back to the downtown co-op. I have a quick visit with two of the bakers, Darcy and Lisalyn, that used to work in close quarters with the meat department and often fed us very delicious baked goods. I join Caleb at a brewery down the street after this for some beers and lunch and then we go down to another brewery that has games to play. We play some giant jenga and cornhole before I need to take off to meet up with my friend Steph at yet another brewery. Seems like Bellingham is full of them these days, which isn’t a bad thing. We have a few drinks and shoot the breeze for a couple of hours before she takes off and then I ride back up to Caleb’s house. The rest of the night is taking it easy, although it should’ve been spent patching the tubes I picked up earlier this week from the bike shop. I’ll be leaving tomorrow, but it’s only about a 40 mile day down to Anacortes, so I won’t be in a huge rush.

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July 18, 2016 – Brian’s house, Seattle, WA to Caleb’s house, Bellingham, WA

Brian took off for work just after 7 and I sort of woke up while he was getting ready to leave. But at the same time I’ve got plenty of time to make it to Bellingham, so I decide to get more sleep. I end up waking up around 8 and forgot to charge my phone last night so I spend some time charging it up and decide to take a cold shower and hopefully wake my body up a little more. Colin calls me about 9 and then he drives over to meet me for a little breakfast before I hit the road.

I get on the road about 10:30 and have just a quick section of riding on the road before I get to the Burke Gilman Trail and start getting out of Seattle as it loops around the north side of Lake Washington. There are pretty consistent views of the lake in between all of the nice houses with the million dollar views. The amount of people on the trail really thin out as I get further from Seattle making it much more enjoyable. The Burke Gilman connects with the Sammamish River Trail and I take that into Woodinville, lasting just under 20 miles for the duration of trail riding.

After this it’s hopping on SR 9 going north to Snohomish. This is about 10 miles and there is a hill in between that I have to conquer first. It’s cloudy out but very humid and I start sweating a lot as I climb the hill. Near the top it starts to rain which cools me down but doesn’t change the humidity much. I make it into Snohomish about 1 PM and decide to take an early lunch break. The main reason for this is I can see some really dark clouds moving in. I stop at a little Mexican place and sit outside. Within a couple of minutes it is pouring down rain and the other 3 tables of people have all moved inside. I am mostly covered by a roof, just my left leg gets rained on, so I don’t really care too much. I wait out the worst of the storm, which is about 45 minutes and then get back on the road.

This time it’s the Centennial Trail which connects Snohomish to Arlington. I’ve ridden this a number of times and is one of the better rails to trails I’ve experienced as far as overall condition goes. There aren’t many people on the trail, probably a combination of it being Monday and the weather not being all that great out. At two different spots along the trail I run into some pretty heavy rain. It’s too hot and humid though to stop and put on my rain jacket, and I don’t really care that I’m getting wet. I just put my hat on to try and keep as much of the rain off of my glasses as possible. To my pleasant surprise the trail keeps going north of Arlington and I just keep following it.

It ends up lasting about 30 miles and dumps me out right along SR 9 which is now minimally traveled this far north. I split off at SR 534, right along Lake McMurray to head further west towards Mt. Vernon. Along the lake, and the trail for that matter earlier, there are plenty of blackberry bushes, but from glancing at them at my speed not too many of the berries appear ready to eat. That is one thing I really miss about Bellingham in particular. Plenty of spots nearby to grab blackberries when they are ready. I even had some bushes in my backyard for a couple of months back in the day. SR 534 goes back over to I-5 and I hop on the frontage road, although I’m sure I-5 is rideable at this point. This takes me into Mt. Vernon, over the Skagit River, and into Burlington where I stop at the Fred Meyer to grab some food and a 6-pack. I text my friend Trey to let him know I’m 20 miles away from Teddy Bear Cove and he gets on his bike to meet me out there. From here it’s a quick ride up to Chuckanut Drive.

The initial 10 miles or so are through farmland and then you get a glimpse of Samish Bay and the road starts paralleling the water for the most part along the cliffs. This was always my favorite ride when I lived up here and I love coming back to it and riding past all the familiar spots to hike the Chuckanut Mountains and to head down to beaches. A few miles before I reach Teddy Bear Cove, Trey crosses paths with me and turns around to ride the last couple of miles with me. It is great to have someone to talk to for a few miles in person. We make it to Teddy Bear Cove at about 7:30 and head down to the water. I take my bike all the way down the hill, which is a bit of a pain due to the amount of steps there are, but I didn’t want to leave my panniers and bed roll attached to my bike (which would have been locked) with us being so far away from them. In hindsight I should’ve locked the bike and hid my stuff along the trail somewhere, which is what Trey suggested. This spot is as awesome as I remember, in particular because no one else is down here. We crack open some beers and enjoy the view looking out towards the San Juan Islands. My friends Caleb and Joel make there way out as well and join us at the beach with beers and a frisbee. We hang out until well after sunset and taking my bike back up the trail is a huge pain. Trey helps me on the stairs, providing an extra set of hands at the back of the rack where all of my gear is hanging. It’s a nice and quiet 5 mile ride back into town from here along Chuckanut Drive and then we hop onto the Interurban Trail. Trey parts ways to head back to his house and Caleb, Joel, and I head back to their house. We toss the frisbee around some more and then Caleb and I get into a wrestling match that I lose at and will probably be feeling tomorrow. We all end up crashing around midnight or so. I’m going to be taking a few days off in Bellingham to hopefully see as many friends and as many of the places I love going to while I’m here.

102.5 miles
7:23:56 in the saddle
13.9 Avg. MPH
3061 feet of elevation gained
2917 feet of elevation lost

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